No Background Music

An adaptation for BBC radio 4 of a stage play by Normi Noel, itself based on poems, letters and conversations with former Vietnam field nurse, Penny Rock.

We only had two days in the studio (the now sadly closed Looking Glass); a challenging schedule for material of this depth and complexity. Fortunately, Ms. Weaver was equal to the task, and it was a pleasure to work with her, and with her extraordinary voice.

The two days were harrowing, exhausting and exhilarating in equal measure. With the clock ticking down, we found time at the end to have some fun improvising with singing and other vocalizations, which would prove invaluable as transitions and beds. Those final recordings also gave us a way back into the present from the dark and traumatic memory play.

Elements for the sound design included various bass guitar stings and manipulated amplifier throbs and pulses; I also used little noise scraps and tears as acoustic “wounds” to punctuate (and even puncture) the montage; there was no way this space of trauma should ever be made “seamless”. With each scene, I searched for a tone and overall aesthetic that reflected the fractured yet loving (against all odds) qualities in Ms. Rock’s fearless recollections.


For now, at least, the entire play seems to have been uploaded to youtube (not by me):

A final excerpt from the script, with a message that remains all too contemporary:

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